An Unpredictable Journey
By Edie Markman
Special to GoHolyCross.com
For three consecutive seasons, junior Kara Violette has proven to be a crucial leader of the Holy Cross women's ice hockey team. She has earned numerous accolades, including most recently being named New England Hockey Conference Player of the Year.
However, if it were not for Violette's determination and full recovery after an injury in high school, combined with Holy Cross' vision into her potential, she would not be playing for the college on the Hill.
WHERE IT BEGAN
Growing up in the small town of Greene, Maine and playing sports since she was four years old, Violette mirrored her eldest brother, Cody, in nearly everything he did, including ice hockey. What started as just a hobby fiercely grew into her primary focus. Initially participating on local teams, Violette's motivation to play more competitively inspired her to compete on various club teams, and eventually for the Assabet Valley Girls Ice Hockey team in Concord, Mass.
Violette celebrating while playing for Assabet Valley
Violette cites her parents' dedication as the chief component of how she was able to achieve the success that she has had. “My dad would drive three hours each way to get me to Concord four times a week,” recalled Violette. Her father, Mark, who played hockey in high school, rarely missed a game during her career. Thanks to her father's trust in her and the sacrifices he made, she was able to compete at a camp for USA Hockey, where Holy Cross head coach Peter Van Buskirk first saw her. Her father's unconditional support, as well as the encouragement of her entire family, is a key motivator in her achieved greatness.
NOT GIVING UP
Violette was a team captain at St. Mark's
With the underlying goal of playing college hockey on her mind, Violette made the decision to attend St. Mark's, a boarding school in Southborough, Mass. While hockey was always her primary focal point, Violette also lettered in soccer and lacrosse during all four years she attended St. Mark's, but she proved to excel tremendously in ice hockey as she was the leading scorer on the team as a freshman.
Everything changed during her sophomore year when Violette tore her ACL playing lacrosse. Irritated and frustrated that she would be missing part of her junior year, the primary year of recruiting, Violette was heartbroken that her dream of playing collegiate hockey might not happen. “It was tough,” said Violette. “I tried to reach out to schools but none were really showing interest. Then Holy Cross found me.”
Determined to not give up on her dream of playing college hockey and to show Holy Cross that she would be ready, Violette worked hard on her recovery and during her senior year was named an Independent School League All-Star by the Boston Globe, as well as team captain and team MVP.
LIVING HER DREAM
Violette winning the 2016 NEHC Open Tournament MVP Award
The Holy Cross women's ice hockey staff had been watching Violette many years prior to her time at St. Mark's, and foresaw the potential she carried. Her puck control and fast-paced ability to think on her feet set Violette apart from her competitors. “Kara is one of those players that has a complete skill set,” stated Van Buskirk. “She was always someone we had our eye on.”
Van Buskirk, as well as the entire coaching staff, were determined to gain Violette as a player for the Crusaders, regardless of injury.
Holy Cross approached the St. Mark's head coach and expressed their interest in having her become a Crusader. Violette, who had been unaware of Holy Cross' interest in her, was excited to discover their intention to recruit her.
Since Holy Cross took a chance on her, Violette, who is a member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, has proven to be a determined leader on the team. Leading the Crusaders with 35 points on 19 goals and 16 assists this season, Violette ended the year ranked fourth in the league in scoring. Her 19 goals ranked first in the NEHC. Violette closed the season tied for seventh all-time in the program's history with 45 career goals and tied for ninth all-time with 94 career points. She became just the second Crusader in the program's history to earn a conference Player of the Year award.
“What Kara has done here highlights what I thought she had the ability to do,” said Van Buskirk. “She has a high skill set, competitive level, hockey IQ and she works hard. She sets an example for her fellow teammates beyond just her hockey skills. These positive work ethics are the reason her team voted her as a captain her junior year.”
When asked to recount the most important thing that she has gained from playing hockey at Holy Cross, Violette did not hesitate to say it is the relationships. “I've made lifelong friends and learned how to be a part of a team; and how to put aside individual goals for the entire team.”
Even after winning the league MVP, Violette states it would have been impossible to attain any such awards without the backing and trust she has in her teammates. She is a firm believer that the game of hockey is uncertain, but the bonds she shares with her teammates can support her through any treacherous endeavor. “This is the closest I've ever been with a team. It is a family.”
Although she still has a season left, her time on the hill is slowly coming to a close. “I've been playing hockey since I was four,” stated Violette. “It is a part of me, and it will be hard letting go of that. When people ask who you are, hockey is a big part of my answer and my identity.” While she does not plan on playing in Europe post-graduation, Violette hopes to continue playing when the opportunity is made available.
When asked what hockey has taught her, Violette emphasized, “overcoming adversity and unforeseen obstacles.” She continued to mention how the game of hockey is unpredictable, as is the game of life.
Violette has had an outstanding career and has worked hard to earn every accolade she has received over her years of competitive hockey, but it is amazing to think Violette's hockey career almost ended after her high school graduation.
If it were not for her undying ambition to play college hockey, and Holy Cross' chance to trust what they saw in her, her full potential may have never been brought to light.
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